NDF picks 20 candidates for by-election

Burma’s opposition National Democratic Force says it will field 20 candidates in the upcoming by-elections, the ambiguous date of which still remains a source of frustration from would-be contenders.

Its leader, Khin Maung Swe, said that he and colleagues were negotiating with the various members of the 10-party alliance the NDF is part of to finalise a strategy for the by-elections, with 48 parliamentary seats up for grabs.

The NDF, which split from the National League for Democracy in order to contest the election, came in fifth place in the polls last year, winning 16 seats.

The lack of clarity surrounding the date of the interim vote has angered a number of parties. When asked by DVB when the poll was scheduled for, the spokesperson for Burma’s Union Election Commission, Thaung Hlaing, replied: “You just be patient and wait.”

He said he could not comment without permission from his seniors in the UEC, but only that that announcement would be made “when the time comes”.

Of the seats available, 40 are in the People’s Parliament, six in the National Parliament and two in the Regions/States Parliament.

Despite months of campaigning last year, few parties were able to match the might of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), led by President Thein Sein and formed only months prior to the November poll.

The USDP ended up claiming more than 80 percent of the vote, and its members dominate parliament, implicitly aided by the nearly 350 military officials who were automatically awarded seats prior to the polls.

The NLD, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, says it will make a decision on 18 November as to whether it will register again as a political party, following amendments to electoral laws that had initially barred it from running in the polls.

Suu Kyi is believed to be in favour of competing, although other influential party members, such as Win Tin, are more cautious about the extent of impact that Burma’s most popular, albeit it historically sidelined, political force could have in a USDP-dominated arena.

The military-aligned National Unity Party has said it will also field around 20 candidates.

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